May 20, 2014
Big data can be an intimidating phrase for any organization, especially smaller nonprofits. Aggregating high volumes of information and applying it to a success model is no easy feat; it takes the appropriate resources and minds to strategize an effective plan that properly leverage these statistics.
The phrase itself has become an industry buzzword, but for those not well-versed in the digital age vernacular, it may be confusing. According to the NonProfit Quarterly, big data is just multiple sets of information that can be cross-referenced and organized in a way that can uncover key metrics such as donor trends and sentiment. For example, a subset of big data may include page views to a nonprofit's online donation form, where they come from and how long visitors stay on the page. If a benefactor is making his or her way to a donation page via social media, a charitable foundation can start to dedicate more resources to marketing on online networks.
Big data can help any sized organization
While information analytics can help the marketing efforts of a charity, it can aid in other areas as well. Industry website the Nonprofit Marketing Blog suggests that organizations can leverage big data to help solve the following issues: optimizing the board, reducing the length of fundraising cycles and identifying important donors. Using the data collected about individual benefactors, nonprofits can focus on how these relationships were fostered and in turn, focus on creating new ones with major donors or high-impact board members.
The ability to approach someone with a common interest, or at least the knowledge of what drives them to give, can greatly benefit a smaller nonprofit. Big data is a form of predictive analytics that allows organizations to develop a better understanding of what their current and prospective donors feel at a given time. There are a number of organizations that custom-cater their big data analytics capabilities to the organization at hand, so aggregating the appropriate data would not be an issue for an organization of any size.
A hindrance for smaller charities may be cost, though. Big data functions are complex, robust operations and may be a substantial investment upfront for an organization. However, given the metrics behind information analysis, measuring return on investment wouldn't be particularly difficult for a nonprofit in this instance. Some companies even offer free trials so charities that lack the financial backing can gauge how the software is working right away, the NonProfit Quarterly added. Organizations can build an initial database and budget accordingly from there.